Jay’s offer to share services remains on the table

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LIVERMORE FALLS — Jay school officials offered a proposal to Regional School Unit 36 officials in mid-March that showed a savings of $108,903.68 if the two school systems consolidated their central offices as of July 1.

The offer came after RSU 36 Superintendent Judith Harvey had announced her retirement as of June 30.

Jay School Committee Chairman Mary Redmond-Luce met with RSU Board Chairman Ashley O’Brien more than a month ago for breakfast. She gave him the proposal that Jay Superintendent Robert Wall had given her. Redmond-Luce said Wednesday she didn’t know all the information about the proposal and the two agreed to meet with Wall in his office later in the month. Harvey was unable to attend.

Wall put together the proposal using RSU 36’s draft budget and the Jay school budget.

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He used $105,000, which is Harvey’s salary and $91,000, which is his salary to come up with $196,219 that is currently spent on superintendents between the two districts. If there was only one superintendent to oversee both school systems, salary cost would be $110,000, according to the proposal.

The current benefits for the two superintendents are $34,750 combined and with one superintendent, it would be $22,000.

The total cost for the superintendent’s office would be $201,621 compared $297,905 combined.

That figure also covers support staff and benefits.

The other category is Business Office including a business manager that the two could share with a budget of $265,813 compared to a combined budget of $253,194.

The total budget for the two systems for the central office is $563,718.68, a projection Wall developed using the data he had. If the services were shared and combined the budget is projected at $454,815, according to Wall’s figures.

The proposal would also provide for two individuals to do payables and payroll, Wall said.

“The only reason it was on the table is we feel it’s a process not only to save money but also to support sharing in the future,” Wall said. “This is not a low end proposal. I think it is realistic.”

The proposal supports best business practice to put your resources where you can support them, Wall said.

It is part of organized stability, he said.

O’Brien said Wednesday he didn’t understand that the proposal would have been for the coming school year. He thought it was for when the two systems got together to consider combining central offices and sharing services.

“I did not present it to the board,” O’Brien said. Budget discussions were finalized on April 15 for the warrant. RSU directors also hired a new superintendent to officially begin working July 1. The contract is for one year.

Jay’s budget is proposed at $9 million while RSU 36’s budget is proposed at $9.1 million. It is the first time in more than a decade that Jay’s school budget is proposed at less than RSU 36. Voters in both systems will vote on the individual proposals in June.

O’Brien said that his board had reached a consensus previously that they wanted a superintendent working for them to protect the district’s interest as the two school systems work to join together in either consolidation or an alternative organizational structure to comply with state law.

If the two system reached an agreement prior to July 1 of this year, they would avoid losing more than $350,000 in state subsidy to state penalties for not consolidating, plus they would have saved the money from shared services.

The savings would have been divided using a cost-sharing method yet to be developed, Wall said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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